“Roses are red, violets are blue. We’re splitting up. It’s not me, it’s you.” Or the best ways to finish a relationship before February 14th, by Match.com’s relationship expert, Kate Taylor

If you think Valentine’s day is just a marketing tool for card shops, you’re wrong. If you think it’s a wonderful way to strong-arm men into being romantic, you’re also wrong. What Valentine’s Day is – and the best thing it is – is a temperature-check for your relationship, letting you know if it’s cooling off, or if it has the necessary heat to survive the rest of the year.
When you’re happily in love, February 14th is easy. Everywhere you look, appropriate mushy presents beg to be bought, and you can’t wait to celebrate alone with your partner. But when you’re unsure, Valentine’s Day gives you a timely wake-up call. If no romantic cards strike a chord in you, or you feel a sinking sense of obligation at the thought of a candlelit meal, or you’re searching shops in vain for a teddy-bear embroidered with, “You’ll Do,” you need to act. Now.
Is it cruel to break up with a partner on the eve of the year’s most romantic holiday? No. The most cruel thing you can ever do in a relationship is give a partner false hope for the future. Wasting someone’s time when you know they’re not The One is unforgivable. Every day you ignore the issue is another day they could be spending with someone else, someone who adores them. So if you have nagging doubts that won’t be silenced, it’s time to make the break.
The first thing to do is be sure. Set some time aside to think about your relationship, in its good and bad areas. Don’t dwell on how upset your partner will be if you split up – people are never as heartbroken as our egos expect them to be; they bounce back, usually with insulting speed. Do, however, ask yourself if you can seriously imagine being happy with your partner in 2, 5 or 10 years’ time. If you can, ask yourself why you’re not happy now – are there practical problems that need fixing? Yes? Then think of ways to fix them, or a way to talk to your partner about them, and don’t break up.
If you can’t imagine a future together, move swiftly. That way, both of you get the chance to meet new people as fast as possible. Make a date to meet your partner and talk, as soon as possible. If you live together, make arrangements to stay elsewhere for a few nights after the Split. Then simply be honest – admit that your feelings aren’t the same and the thought of your being together in the future doesn’t make you happy.
If it’s a shock, your partner might take a few days to accept your desire to end it. They’ll keep contacting you; keep expecting you to change your mind. Don’t feel it’s easier on them if you give them vague promises to “think about it”, or “have a short break and see how we feel”. Again, this is crueler than a definite ending. Be brief in your dealings with them, but consistent. Stick to your story.
Don’t contact them. Let them grieve in peace. Later on, they’ll feel grateful that you never saw them at their heartbroken worst. Don’t take late-night calls for this reason, and do delete them from your Facebook friends list straight away. If you share a home, start dealing with the intricacies of ending that arrangement immediately.
Be kind, but firm. It’s over. Expect to feel lonely in the following weeks, after the euphoria of being free again has worn off. Expect, too, that your ex-partner will seem 100 times’ more desirable as soon as you no longer know what they’re doing every day. But don’t mistakenly feel that means you were wrong to separate! It’s just how people are – desire runs on mystery. Instead of contacting them, or finding out what they’re up to, via Google or mutual friends, take up a compelling new hobby (exercise works), throw yourself into your job, or redecorate your house. Don’t date straight away, even if you hear your ex rebounds into a new relationship. Wait until you’re happy in your life on your own before you find a new person to share it with. By next February, chances are high that you’ll be buying a romantic card for someone new, with only feelings of excitement.